Monday 26 May 2014

New Sounds: Parquet Courts - Sunbathing Animal

Rockers Parquet Courts already dropped a few tracks including the title track of their upcoming album Sunbathing Animal that is due out next week promising another energetic and aggressive album. Now you can already stream the full album. It actually sounds less aggressive and more melancholic. Listen and judge for yourself below.

Official Website | MySpace | Twitter | Facebook | YouTube | Spotify

Read more!

Wednesday 21 May 2014

Damon Albarn's Beautiful Melancholia

Ever since he has been making music, Damon Albarn has treated us to many wonderful compositions. During his time with Blur it became clear that he is a gifted composer. Together with the unique guitar skills of Graham Coxon, a very good songwriter of his own, this resulted in some timeless songs, especially at the end of the band's lifespan. After that Albarn was always following his heart in Gorillaz, The Good The Bad & Queen, his operas and the many projects he was involved in. He's an interesting and versatile musician who now releases his first true solo album Everyday Robots.

Damon Albarn - Everyday Robots (Ronald Says 8 out of 10)

It may be surprising that he never released a solo album before, but Albarn never felt the need. He was able to ventilate all his musical ideas through the many project he is part of. And if it wasn't for producer Richard Russell it may have never happened. Albarn seems to feel quite happy in bands or other collaborations. But maybe this time his songs are even more personal, drawing inspiration from encounters or places in his life. Or simply thoughts that have been wandering in his mind. The songs feel as if he's dreaming out loud, kind of the way you see him sitting on a stool on the album cover.

Sometimes his songs are quite specific, like 'Mr. Tembo', the sad story about an elephant in Tanzania he once met. Other times he's pondering about our relation to technology nowadays in title track 'Everyday Robots':
"We are everyday robots on our phones In the process of getting home Looking like standing stones Out there on our own"

But always the songs have that typical Albarn sound and feel. The playfulness from Blur, the hiphop, relaxed electronic beats and sounds of Gorillaz, the melancholia of The Good The Bad & Queen, the African influences and gospel, they are all there. Not only does this album feel personal, it holds everything Albarn has brought with him from the past. It feels as if he's holding still for a moment, like many of us do hallway our life, looking back at his past, looking around at the state of the world. It makes him sad now and then, but not depressed. It may all be far from perfect, but there's always hope:
"If the world is too tall You can jump you won't fall You're in safe hands What the day will now give How those seeds will now live It's in your hands"

This album feels like the logical conclusion of what Damon Albarn has been about so far. At the same time it's a showcase of his skills and talent, the apparent ease and nonchalance of his songs. When you listen closely you'll notice how every note is there for a reason, every word has been given thought. Now he's moving on again and we can only speculate on what will be next, all we know is that it will be interesting. Slowly he's shaping up to become one of the most unique composers of his generation.

Listen to 'Everyday Robots' on Spotify.

Official Website | SoundCloud | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | Spotify

Read more!

Thursday 15 May 2014

Professional Debut Album Moonbow

When you're listening to The End Of Time, the debut album of stoner rock formation Moonbow, you'll notice how professional it sounds. Both sound and production are great, making the heavy rock songs sound spot on. That may be remarkable for a first record, but when it becomes clear who are playing in the band it explains a lot. Singer Matt Bischoff found a good musical partner in David McElfresh (Lethal and Hank 3 a.o.) and was able to recruit bassist Ryan McAllister (Valley Of The Sun) and drummer Steve Earle (Afghan Whigs, Hermano). You might want to call it a supergroup although this qualification usually is a curse instead of a blessing, since it often leads to disappointment.

Moonbow - The End Of Time (Ronald Says 8 out of 10)

Fortunately this is not the case on The End Of Time. Instead it is a good album with heavy rock songs that remind of Kyuss, with lazy guitar riffs and pounding drums. Nice detail is that Kyuss singer John Garcia, currently in Vista Chino, is guest singer on 'Take It For Granted', a rugged groovy song. Guitarist McElfresh plays an important role with his powerful guitar playing and shredding solos, for example in 'Journey Of The Iron Horse'.

As is customary in good stoner rock, the band takes you on a hallucinating trip regularly with slow jams, like in the great lazy 'Fire Bath'. Again the jams are of a high level and you wish they would go on forever. But the band is carefully avoiding monotony and knows exactly when to stop, keeping it interesting throughout. Eventually the LP already finishes after half an hour but you wouldn't mind a few more songs.

The End Of Time is an outstanding record, where the musicians are getting the best out of each other. They are all prepared to play in support of the music, without trying to show off their reputation. That way they leave an impression with their joint effort and it becomes clear how well they complement each other. Hopefully Moonbow isn't a one time project and can we expect more of them in the future.

This review has been published on Festivalinfo in Dutch over here.

Listen to 'The End Of Time' on Spotify.

Official Website | Facebook | YouTube | Spotify

Read more!

Wednesday 7 May 2014

King Khan And The Shrines' Show Is Full Of Soul, Rock And Crazy Outfits

Mix soul with garage rock and punk and let a bunch of crazy musicians play it, fronted by a nutty singer. That's King Khan and the Shrines for you in a nutshell. The last album Idle No More of the band around Arish Ahmad Khan, aka King Khan, came out last year and displayed a reborn Khan. But his live shows are supposed to be legendary so when I won tickets for their performance in the Melkweg I was psyched!

King Khan and the Shrines at Melkweg Amsterdam, May 4 2014

Support act are Chuckamuck from Berlin who should be good at warming us up with some honest garage rock. However there's a line you can cross when it comes to playing not tight at all until it becomes quite embarrassing. Whether they were in a coffee shop for too long I don't know, but all it warms up are my jaws from laughing. I hope they found a couch to crash on in the end.

If you really want to see how the game is played, King Khan will show you the way. Dressed in a leopard print shirt and wearing an insane headdress with huge feathers, he can scream like James Brown and rock it out like there's no tomorrow. He's always fully backed by his band, who are joining him in similar crazy stage antics. The horns section are all wearing a flashy cape and the keyboard player picks up his keyboard several times as if it's a portable one. "Mr. Speedfinger's" guitar is screaming while he's going through all the rock poses and moves known to mankind. The only one who is staying cool all the time is drummer "John Boy Adonis". Needless to say this show is turning into a wild party.

After the first part of the set, a short break follows. Of course Khan has to change, so we have to wait for a few minutes. When he returns he's only dressed in a long cape, some small shorts and a big black whig, showing off his chubby belly. Especially in the soulful songs, Khan is showing that he's a pretty good singer. His voice is a bit rough and quite powerful. The Shrines, despite all the slapstick, are a tight band, playing swinging grooves. Therefore the performance never gets cheesy or too corny. Combined with all the craziness, energy and a lot of heart from everyone on stage, I can see why King Khan's shows are legendary and definitely a must see.

More Pictures

Official Website | Twitter | Facebook | MySpace | Spotify

Read more!

Friday 2 May 2014

New Sounds: The Horrors - Luminous

The Horrors released one of the best records of 2011 with Skying and are now finally back with the follow up Luminous. They are streaming the album online ahead of its release on May 5. Listen over here:

Official Website | MySpace | Twitter | Facebook | Spotify
Read more!